An additional mile of forested frontage along the Casselman River across from the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) in Somerset County is now protected and open to the public, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced on October 31.

This newly protected 35-acre property is located in Lower Turkeyfoot Township, approximately three miles east of Confluence on the Casselman River, a tributary of the Youghiogheny River. This property is now open for nature walks, birding, wildlife watching, and other forms of low-impact recreation.

35 Acres Added to WPC’s Casselman River Conservation Area in Somerset County.

It is one of six Conservancy-owned properties protected in recent years to help safeguard scenic views and wildlife along the GAP. These properties comprise the Conservancy’s 644-acre Casselman River Conservation Area.

This property protects several rare plant species found within this section of the Casselman River floodplain, where dense vegetation, forests, and wetlands play an important role in filtering and storing water while providing important, high-quality habitat for wildlife.

Accompanying these ecological protections are the scenic and public recreation benefits this property provides to improve river access for anglers and paddlers. It is in proximity to four canoe/kayak access points along the river operated by Conservancy partners, the Casselman River Watershed Association, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Two of these access locations, Fort Hill and Harnedsville, were created by grants from the Conservancy’s Canoe Access Development Fund. Experienced paddlers will pass through this and other Conservancy-protected lands during a 5.5-mile trip that features mostly fast, flowing water and open rapids between those two access points.

“This property was identified by many local stakeholders as a key protection priority because of its high visibility from the GAP Trail and extensive frontage along the Casselman River,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “With the generosity of our funding partners, we’re pleased to continue protecting natural areas and wildlife habitats along the Casselman River, and also to provide protection of the scenic views along the GAP trail.”

The purchase of this property was made possible by Charles and Sandra Romesburg of Logan, Utah. Charles grew up in the area and graduated from Uniontown High School. Shortly after earning a PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, he and Sandra moved to Utah, where Charles served as a professor at Utah State University until his recent retirement. Although the Romesburgs have not lived in this area for many years, they have continued to support the Conservancy since becoming members in 1970. Charles attributes their ongoing involvement to his fond memories of exploring the Conservancy’s Bear Run Nature Reserve and other natural areas in the Laurel Highlands throughout his childhood. They want to ensure that the wildlife in the region will continue to thrive in future generations.

Additional grant funding was provided by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation and the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Before exploring the property, visitors are encouraged to first contact the Conservancy for parking and access information at 412-586-2318 or [email protected].